Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Over the past two months, the most popular hashtag on Twitter, in my opinion, was #Oneword. What's your one word for 2016? Last year, I had several words, 

However, this year I want to remove the #oneword "idea" and place a word into action. Yes, I'm talking about not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. 

My word/action: Gratitude.

Gratitude for being named the 2016 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year alongside Winston Sakurai (@WinstonSakurai) and Bobby Dodd (@Bobby_Dodd). 

I cannot even begin to tell you how honored I am to be named in the company of true game changers in education. To receive this honor is a true testament of what my school community has done, believes in, and strives for each year. 

WORDS ALONE CANNOT DO JUSTICE FOR HOW MUCH THIS MEANS TO ME. NASSP, I will represent you with immense pride!

Four years ago, I was looking to move up from being an assistant principal to principal. 

Gratitude for my current school giving me the chance to land on my feet at Northfield Community Middle School.  Dr. Janice Fipp, the superintendent at the time, understood what I wanted to do, even though it wasn't being done elsewhere. Dr. Fipp made an investment in me, and I promised her as I signed the contract, "I would work harder than anyone before and I will take this school to higher heights." Why? Because of the gratitude that I had for her and her giving me a chance to become a principal.  

Gratitude to Mr. Robert Garguilo, our interim superintendent, for empowering me to take the school to new heights. I asked him during his first week on the job, "what would you like me to do?"  His response was so simple, yet so powerful, "run your school the way you want to run it." You know you have upper level support when he loves hearing our saying, "where we're going, we don't need roads!"

Gratitude to IT Director, Aleng Phommathep. Without Aleng, there is no BYOD program that sparked the change in our school. One of the brightest minds in the business, as well as, one of the best "teammates" I ever worked with. We made it a passion to bridge IT, curriculum, instruction and culture! Also, with the addition of Janice Dye, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, it has made us even stronger!

Gratitude to all of them believing in my innovative, digital visions, when it wasn't attempted at the majority of schools, let alone middle school level. 

Gratitude to Kevin Jarrett, our Digital Shop teacher/designer, who has helped to take our school to higher heights than ever imaginable. How high is up?

Gratitude to Kristen Polak, one of our ELA teachers and president of the teachers union. She represent the union with such pride and understands the direction that we are moving to better the lives of all, in OUR building. We meet daily to discuss the culture, climate, vision, and all concerns that the staff have. 

Gratitude to my ENTIRE STAFF! Four years ago when I started, they will be the first to admit, I walked into a school that needed TLC, technology updates, teacher empowerment, vision, and innovation. When I sit in their studios today, I cannot stress how far they have come in growing as innovative leaders. I am proud to see how students' eyes "light up" when the staff creates interactive/digital lessons from our curriculum. They have grown so much over the past four years, that I'm not sure they realize it.  As one recent visitor stated, your school is "one giant makerspace." #NCSPRIDE 

Gratitude to Business Administrator, Linda Albright. Without a doubt, a leader in the field of educational finance. I cannot thank Linda and her office enough for working with me to ensure that our school can have the best products. 

Gratitude to my friends, family, and PLN. Over the years, I have made so many connections thanks to Twitter, and these amazing people have helped to better me and my school. Trips to various parts of the country and the other side of the world. I plan to continue to "play it forward" to others so they too can see the positive impacts of having a PLN. 

Gratitude to the 30 plus schools that have visited and are going to visit our school this year, to gain a better sense of where we are taking our students in education. We are in the business of preparing students to adjust to the shifts that come at them throughout life. *Imagine if more schools collaborated together, instead of competing against one another.* 

Gratitude to the staff, students, parents, and our community for embracing all of our changes. Our culture and climate has never been higher, and I couldn't be more proud to see their smiles entering the building, instead of leaving. 

Most importantly- Gratitude to my amazing wife and son for their unconditional support! 

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Dr. Albert Schweitzer 

Powerful podcast "How Gratitude Can Change Your Life" - Curious Minds by Gayle Allen-